TERRE HAUTE —
High school soccer teams from Northview both hope to challenge Sullivan for conference championships this year — a luxury Terre Haute North and Terre Haute South apparently don’t have.
Even though this school year is to be the last time North and South participate in the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference in all sports but football, MIC soccer coaches apparently said, “Why wait?” All of them except Lawrence North have dropped the Braves and Patriots in girls play, all but Carmel have dropped the Vigo County boys; whether or not a 2-0 MIC record would be good enough for a conference championship has yet to be determined.
At least one coach, Kyle Baker of the North girls team, thinks his schedule will be even tougher as a result, but there will certainly be some differences.
Sullivan not only won both WIC soccer titles a year ago but are defending Class A sectional champions as well. West Vigo’s boys almost won a Class A sectional too, and North’s girls won a Class 2A sectional last year.
The three Vigo County schools and Northview participated in a jamboree Saturday at South. Here are those team outlooks.
n Northview girls — First-year coach Aaron Crawn inherits most of a team that went 7-7-1 last fall and tied for second in the WIC.
“We only lost three seniors,” Crawn said Saturday. “We have a lot of juniors and three very good seniors. … We’re looking for big things. We think we can play with anybody on our schedule.”
Libby Deckard, Olivia Fulton and Melissa Lummis — all of whom scored at Saturday’s jamboree — are the three seniors for the Knights, with more scoring expected from junior Hannah Minor. “She has a big foot,” Crawn said of Minor.
Defensive leaders for the Knights will be junior sweeper Sidney Buell and junior goalkeeper Mannah Mace.
n Terre Haute North girls — A little more rebuilding will have to be done at North, where coach Kyle Baker graduated nine seniors, seven of them starters, from the 13-6 team that lost to Castle in a regional shootout a year ago.
Team leaders this season will include the Patriot captains — seniors Kaleigh Sutliff and Kelsey Thomas and junior Spencer Grim — as well as sophomore Abby Howes and junior goalkeeper Brooke Frederick.
North’s team success this year, Baker said, will depend on “how well our younger players develop. I feel good with the first 11 or 12, so we need the girls behind them to develop depth.”
After making some changes to the veteran team he inherited a year ago, Baker sees his concepts being picked up a little quicker this time. “We’re ahead of where we were last year [from a mental standpoint],” he said.
n Terre Haute South girls — Coach Dave Drake’s Braves were at the top of the MIC near the midpoint of the season last fall, and now it will be up to a fairly young team to try to duplicate the 11-5-1 season of a year ago.
“We lost 17 goals [from Courtney Hubbard], our defensive stopper [Makenzie Mauriello] and our goalkeeper [Kelli Buchanan],” Drake pointed out in assessing graduation losses. “That’s three valuable players right down the middle.”
Abby Pigg should be the leader of a small senior class and could be a top defender — unless her skills are more valuable elsewhere. Junior Eleanor Carre will help shore up the midfield area and junior Cassidy Wood is already a two-year starter in the back.
Sophomore Sophia Royeca is another returning defender, and two other sophomore returnees with familiar names — Anne Hubbard and Megan Mauriello, both younger sisters of graduated Braves — might also fill holes.
There isn’t a younger Buchanan sister on the team, however.
“We have a couple of good freshmen who will help,” Drake said, “but I have to find a goalkeeper.” Sophomore Brittany Vaughn got her chance in the net at Saturday’s jamboree, and sophomore Lauren Aue is another possibility.
n West Vigo girls — One thing coach Scott McClain never had to worry about with his Vikings last season was a substitution pattern. His team fielded 11 players just once last season, he said, and in every other game played short-handed.
So when McClain said recently, “This year we’re looking really good,” he’s talking about numbers in addition to talent — 15 Vikings, enough to be able to substitute and to scrimmage in practice.
Top returnees from last year’s winless team are seniors Michaela Rollings, Alexa Clingerman and Lexi Carlson. Transfer Tabitha Dawson, a freshman, should be a big help offensively, McClain indicated, and her sister Tori Dawson, a senior, was in goal for the Vikings at the jamboree.
n Northview boys — Ron Kiernicki takes over as head coach of the Knights after serving as an assistant for last year’s team that finished 6-8-1 and tied for third in the WIC. He’s optimistic about this year, and next year as well.
“We have only three seniors,” Kiernicki pointed out, “but a huge junior class, maybe 20 or more.”
He expects the Knights to be strongest in the middle of the field, where senior Mark Underwood — who led the team in both goals and assists — and junior K.J. Thomas are returning.
The two midfielders have big and attractive targets up front, Kiernicki said, in sophomore Tristen Raybould and juniors Derek Snyder, Mitchell Thomas and David Joslin.
Northview’s defense, the coach said, will be led by junior goalkeeper Chandler Reeves along with junior defenders Buzz Munoz and Jacob Nobles.
n Terre Haute North boys — Ten valuable seniors graduated from last year’s 9-9-1 team that lost the sectional championship match to Vincennes Lincoln, a statistic that would ordinarily signal a rebuilding year.
“We have some holes to fill,” coach John Welch admitted. “We have three seniors back, and some other people with experience.”
Captains for the Patriots this season are returning senior Logan Perry; senior Luke Nelson, who didn’t play last year; and junior Jared Prifogle. Two more players expected to move into key roles are Damon Prifogle, Jared’s twin, and sophomore Nolan Seward.
If North seems to lack experience, however, what it actually lacks is just varsity experience. Expect this year’s new players to take advantage of their time on the field to become a solid team by the end of the season.
• Terre Haute South boys — Aaron Nicoson was an assistant coach for the Braves for the past five seasons, and he’s confident his first varsity team can improve upon last year’s 5-12 record.
“We’re a lot deeper than we were last year,” he said Saturday after seeing his team perform at the jamboree, “and our numbers are up. … We’re just trying to work out some kinks.”
Captains for the Braves are senior Rory Sommerville, a potentially dominant midfielder, and senior Forrest Pommier, an experienced backliner whose skills with the ball could make him valuable in several spots.
Sophomore Grant Hammons is a midfielder with “ball control and vision,” his coach said, and another sophomore, Matt Green, is also talented. Two more veterans who will help are seniors Graham Wrin and Petr Rodway.
Nicoson plans utilize his depth by pushing the pace. “I’m a defensive-minded person,” he said, “but I’m trying to push [the Braves] a little harder offensively.”
• West Vigo boys — Coach Culley DeGroote’s Vikings were very close to postseason success last fall, losing in two overtimes to Covington for the Class A sectional championship. Although there’s not a lot of experience back from that team, hopes are just as high.
“We’re cautiously optimistic that be the end of the year we could be pretty good,” DeGroote said.
Viking leaders should be Brady Cole, the team’s most experienced senior, and juniors Ethan Augustus, Justin Kump and Austin Romanelly. Junior Donnie Ames is a typical Viking — it’s his first year starting in goal, and just his second year of soccer.
“Besides those guys, everybody else is new,” the coach pointed out.
Many of the newcomers are good athletes who have excelled in other sports, but that’s a double-edged sword. No fewer than eight Viking soccer players participate in other fall sports too, four in cross country and four in tennis.